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Nemours Cardiac Center Among First to Report Pediatric Heart Surgery Outcomes

Program meets, exceeds benchmark survival standards

Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington
Christian Pizarro, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery

Christian Pizarro, MD,
Division Chief of Pediatric
Cardiothoracic Surgery

A first-of-its-kind report on pediatric and congenital heart surgery was released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). The report shows that the Nemours Cardiac Center at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is a regional leader for surgical outcomes for children with congenital heart defects.

Affecting nearly one out of every 100 infants in the United States, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of deaths related to birth defects. While the PHC4 has issued reports on adult cardiac surgery for many years, this project represents one of the few, if not only, efforts at statewide public reporting on pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes. Though Nemours is a Delaware-based institution, it was deemed appropriate to include in the cohort because a significant share of Nemours patients reside in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The report reviewed 6,313 pediatric cardiac surgeries performed from 2009-2012 at five children’s hospitals that voluntarily participated in the review by consenting to have their data publicly reported. In addition to Nemours, the participating hospitals include: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Geisinger Children’s Hospital, and Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The report provides volume and in-hospital mortality data on nine widely performed (or ‘benchmark’) heart surgeries identified by the Society for Thoracic Surgeons (STS), including the arterial switch operation, repair of ventricular septal defects, and the Norwood procedure. Nemours’ survival outcomes met or exceeded averages established by the STS, with just four deaths in 246 benchmark surgeries performed from 2009-2012. Overall, Nemours performed 920 cardiac surgical procedures during the review period.

Nemours offers the only pediatric congenital heart surgery program in the state of Delaware and is comparable in terms of survival rates with larger programs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Nemours Cardiac Center at duPont Hospital for Children has expertise in all forms of congenital heart surgery including neonatal cardiac surgery, pediatric heart transplants, valve repairs, single ventricle disease, aortic surgery and hybrid procedures that combine traditional surgery with interventional catheterization techniques.

The team includes two board-certified pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons with a combined total of more than 35 years of experience. Within the center is a dedicated cardiac operating room and cardiac intensive care unit staffed around the clock by four pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists/intensivists. The cardiac surgery program provides very high quality, coordinated care with low surgical mortality.

In addition to data on the nine benchmark procedures, the report shows total number of operations performed by each hospital—information that can be helpful in understanding a hospital’s overall experience with pediatric and congenital heart surgery. It also looks separately at outcomes for neonates – infants less than 31 days old.

“We are pleased to be part of this initial public reporting of pediatric heart surgery outcomes,” said Christian Pizarro, MD, Director, Nemours Cardiac Center and Chief, Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery.”The report gives families important data to help them make health care decisions. Voluntarily sharing information with the public represents remarkable transparency and commitment on the part of Nemours and the other reporting hospitals,” he added. “Eventually we hope all hospitals will report their outcomes, because such transparency will improve care across the board.”

About Nemours

Nemours is an internationally recognized children's health system that owns and operates the two free-standing children’s hospitals: the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, Fla., along with outpatient facilities in five states, delivering pediatric primary, specialty and urgent care. Nemours also powers the world’s most-visited website for information on the health of children and teens,, and offers on-demand, online video patient visits through Nemours CareConnect. Nemours is a program dedicated to preventing reading failure in young children, grounded in Nemours’ understanding that child health and learning are inextricably linked, and that reading level is a strong predictor of adult health.

Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, Nemours provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to families in the communities it serves.